Scary Mommy | 

I still remember that July afternoon in the early ’80s. I was dressed in the summer uniform of my four-year-old self — my pink sequined tutu from Rummage-o-Rama. I ran in circles around the cracked plastic pool in the middle of the yard and leaped over the hose hanging out the side.

My toddler sister sat naked in the middle of the murky water, happily splashing bacteria into her open smile while floating blades of grass clung to her chin. My parents’ bodies indented their vinyl folding chairs — my mom slathered with baby oil while lacquering her toes fuchsia, and dad’s mustache occasionally bobbing out below his paperback.

That afternoon, my dad had handed me a 17 cent cylinder of iodized salt and told me that if I managed to sprinkle some of it on a sparrow’s tail, the bird would be temporarily flightless and I would be able I keep it as a pet. I still remember my delight and anticipation as I galloped around the hunk of plastic in the yard, bounding toward birds with my grubby fingers eagerly clasped around the salt container.

My Kids Did Absolutely Nothing This Summer And It Was Fabulous

I never caught a bird that day, but on that day and throughout many messy and uninhibited occasions in my own childhood, I did catch a perspective.

Life is only a series of moments. The moment doesn’t care if it takes place in a weed-filled yard outside of a shabby duplex if it is filled with joy and presence and wonder. Neither does the moment care if it takes place at Disney World if it is hungry and standing preoccupied in a sweaty line.

Now, I realize sending children to summer camp or daycare is a necessity for some families. However, where I live and with my particular work schedule, paying for a babysitter to come to the house while I work in the summer happens to be much cheaper than paying for three kids to go to a camp or daycare. So, considering this reality and keeping in mind my own precious unstructured childhood, my husband and I opted to “send” our kids to “Camp Free-for-All” at home this summer — run partially by Camp Counselor Mommy and partially by Easygoing Babysitter Stacey.

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